Teens grow closer to God, make friends at Frassati Fest Print
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Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 -- 12:00 AM
Doug Ulaszek, youth minister at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cross Plains, leads teens in a workshop on devotion to Mary.
Doug Ulaszek, youth minister at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cross Plains, leads teens in a workshop on devotion to Mary as part of this year's Frassati Fest for high school students in the Diocese of Madison. The annual event was held at the Kalahari resort and convention center in Wisconsin Dells. To view or purchase pictures from this event, visit madisoncatholicherald.smugmug.com (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

WISCONSIN DELLS -- During Super Bowl weekend, hundreds of people escaped the cold temperatures and snowy roads to enjoy the warm and fun comforts of the Kalahari resort and convention center in Wisconsin Dells.

Amid the crowd of vacationers and pleasure seekers of all ages there, more than 200 teens from the Diocese of Madison also had a weekend away from home and used it as a chance to grow in their faith, as well as go down a few water slides.

The opportunity was the annual Frassati Fest weekend for high schoolers. Frassati Fest gives teens a time for catechesis, prayer, and an opportunity to dive deeper into the beauty of the Catholic faith with hundreds of their peers.

This year's theme was "Rekindle: Reviving the fire." The teens learned about how to light a fire in their lives of faith, how to share the beauty of the faith with others, and how to have a blast while doing so.

Meeting new friends

With nearly 20 parishes represented from throughout the diocese, the teens had a chance to meet other people just like them. The teens said this was a highlight of the weekend.

"It's a really great way to meet teens, people our age, that have gone through the same stuff we've gone through, even if we don't want to admit it," said Marlee Bohnam from St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo.

Jacob Bernhardt from St. Philomena Parish in Belmont said the best part of his weekend was "meeting all my new friends and having a good time with them, going to workshops with them, and at the water park hanging out with them."

The water park was a favorite activity among the teens, with a more than two-hour block on Saturday morning devoted to enjoy those amenities.

Just in time for the winter games in Sochi, Frassati Fest also held its own Olympics, with a variety of games in which the different parish groups competed against each other. The teens from Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Beloit came away the big winners at the end of the weekend.

Workshops and testimonials

In between the games, water park, and hanging out, the teens also had time to grow in their faith.

One of the ways they did this was through testimonials and workshops put on by the Frassati Fest leaders -- staff from Camp Gray, religious education leaders, and others.

The keynote speaker was Pete Burds. Burds is a campus minister and Steubenville speaker from the Milwaukee area.

Who is Frassati?

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was a handsome, fun-loving, athletic, courageous, and devout Catholic born into a prominent Italian family. He died at the young age of 24 and has since become the model for lay people all over the world. Beatified in 1990 by Pope John Paul II and named “The Man of the Eight Beatitudes,” Pier Giorgio teaches us that holiness is for everyone.
(Courtesy: www.frassatiusa.org/CNS photo)

Burds spoke to the teens about his faith journey in life. He also led a workshop, with his fiancé Emily, on the topic of vocation and living out one's call.

They both shared with the teens their four-and-a-half year journey of meeting each other, getting to know each other, taking some time apart from each other, discerning vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and then growing closer to God and learning their call in life is to each other.

Doug Ulaszek, youth minister at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cross Plains, led a workshop on devotion to Mary.

He shared with the teens the importance of being close to Jesus' mother like they would be for a friend's mother. He said if the teens want to imitate Jesus, they need to honor and respect Mary just like he did, proclaiming "Jesus is a mama’s boy."

Ulaszek encouraged the teens to pray the Rosary and introduced them to Fr. Michael Gaitley's 33 Days to Morning Glory book as a way to consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary.

The common word teens used to describe the workshops and testimonials was "relatable."

"My faith has grown this weekend by getting to know that the testimonies can relate to my own life and know that people are going through the same thing," said Hannah Dobson from St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo.

"His [Pete Burds'] presentation was really inspiring to me because there was a lot of things I could relate to," said Judeline Parker from St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo.

"I've just gotten a lot closer with God and hearing everyone's stories; it gives me inspiration to keep trying to grow more with Him," said Tiana Kuchta from St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo.

The teens also got a chance to practice their faith with Eucharistic Adoration, a Holy Hour, and confessions. Diocesan Director of Vocations and Master of Ceremonies to the Bishop Fr. Gregory Ihm came to Frassati Fest to help with those events.

Messages to teens

When asked how they would encourage other young people to come to Frassati Fest in upcoming years, the teens had many encouraging words.

"[Frassati Fest is] a really good option for all the Catholic youth to learn more, and if they're lost in their faith and don’t know what to think, what to believe in, it's a really good weekend to learn how you feel about your faith, where you are, and meet others that think the same way," said Dobson.

"If you're a teen or just anybody that really doesn't know how to connect to their faith, but you want to find a way, Frassati Fest is a great way to do it," said Bohnam. "You're learning about God in disguise, you don't know you're having fun, but you're really learning more about God and becoming closer to Him."

For more on this year's Frassati Fest and information on future events, go to its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FrassatiFest

 
 

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